Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lines fly when you are pre-approved for airport security by Tom Parsons, CEO of

Published in Dallas Morning News Sunday, 9/29/13
Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer
American Airlines Passengers stand in lines in hopes of getting through security soon at Terminal A during the flight delays, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

Tom Parsons

Published: 27 September 2013 05:40 PM

Updated: 27 September 2013 05:40 PM

If you are tired of waiting in airport security lines, there might be a solution.

Low-risk travelers willing to pay $85 to $100 and jump through some hoops can sign up for the TSA Pre-check or the Global Entry programs to gain access to the fast lane at the airport.

If you are a member of these programs and you are traveling domestically, you typically don't have to remove your shoes, coat or belt, or take your laptop or liquids out of your bag as you speed through the special lane.

The TSA Pre-check program costs $85 for five years and you must be a select frequent flier with Alaska, American, Delta, United or US Airways who is invited to join. You can use the Pre-check lanes when you are flying on one of the above airlines and also Hawaiian and Virgin America.

Virgin America, Hawaiian and other airlines are planning on starting their own programs, but they are not yet available.

Once you are invited, you can fill out an application online. Then you will need to go to a TSA Pre-check enrollment center to verify your identity and provide fingerprints.

To use the Pre-check program, you have to include your pass number in the Known Traveler Number box when booking your tickets.

U.S. citizens who are enrolled in one of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Travelers programs are automatically enrolled in the TSA Pre-check program. This includes members of Global Entry for worldwide travel, SENTRI for land or sea travel to or from Mexico, or Nexus for land or sea travel to or from Canada.

The Global Entry fee is $100 for a five-year pass. You need to submit your application, and you will have to do a follow-up interview and get fingerprinted. In most cases, the interview process should take less than an hour, which is less time than you'll spend in the customs line if you are not a member.

If you have medical issues and need a wheelchair or to bring along liquid medicine that exceeds the 3.4 ounces allowed in a carry-on, you should bring your prescriptions and doctor's information to the interview, and it may take a little longer to get approved.

Even if you are invited to join the TSA Pre-check program, you should consider the Global Entry program instead because it is only $15 more and it offers more benefits.

The TSA Pre-check program is good for domestic security lines, but the Global Entry program can also speed you through customs. Allowing two hours when connecting from an international flight is usually sufficient, but with the elimination of overtime shifts, those lines can take longer now.

Besides the benefits of speeding through customs, Global Entry offers the same benefits as the TSA Pre-check program, which is at select gates at 40 U.S. airports. TSA is increasing the number of airports and gates where Pre-check is available and plans to add 60 more airports by the end of 2013. To see a list of participating airports and gates, visit

Now remember, just because you are preapproved and part of one of these programs, the TSA and customs can still pull you out of line to do a random check, especially if you've just spent time in coffee shops in Amsterdam.


Tom Parsons is CEO of

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